Doctor Who 3.01: Smith and Jones

Written by: Russell T Davies

Directed by: Charles Palmer

Rating:

What an explosive start to the new series! “Why is the show always set in London?” the critics have asked in previous years… so episode one wryly takes a London hospital and flings the darn thing to the moon. As we meet the new companion, and the Doctor saves the world (or at least half of it) one more time, it’s clear that the BBC Wales team have done themselves proud. Special effects? Bigger and better. Excitement? Ratcheted up a notch. Dialogue? Snappy and well timed. It’s all that we could have hoped for.

David Tennant is now so well established as the Doctor that when you see him running through hospital corridors it’s almost impossible to imagine anybody else playing the role. And our new companion, Martha, is wonderful, slotting straight into the adventure from the first paradox-baiting encounter in the street. Funny, feisty, smart, gorgeous: she gets some great lines, and she’s ready to deal with anything – whether that’s her dysfunctional family, her workplace, or a bunch of mysterious hospital-nabbing aliens. Although she still has that wide-eyed sense of wonder that companions need, she seems somehow more mature. But do you think that calling our hero Mr Smith is going to be her shtick? We’ll wait and see.

The lunar landscape is stunning, and the Judoon are great villains: there’s no better metaphor for bully-boy rent-a-cop types than black-clad rhinos getting in your face. We also loved Anne Reid doing a turn as the sinister blood-sucker, and all the dark humour that entails. Plus did you spot the comedy echo from last year’s series opener, with the Doctor referring to the hospital shop? But that “New Earth” episode was a little daft and anodyne in comparison to this one – this is a blast, an edge-of-your-seat pace-setter that hopefully shows what we can expect in 2007.

Dialogue
Martha (speaking about an alien in a black motorbike helmet): “What is that thing? And where’s it from – the planet Zovirax?”

Dave Bradley